The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday said the federal government would punish any government official whose action or inaction led to the award of $9 billion against Nigeria by a British court for contract violation.
Mr Malami, who President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday re-appointed as the country’s attorney-general, said this while assuming office on Thursday.
He also blamed the Goodluck Jonathan-led government for “conniving with local and International conspirators in a bid to inflict grave economic adversity on the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the good people of Nigeria.”
“As a government that has the mandate of the people, and their interests at heart, we shall not fold our arms and allow this injustice to go unpunished as all efforts, actions and steps shall be taken to bring to book all private individuals, corporate entities and government officials – home or abroad and past or present – that played direct and indirect roles in the conception, negotiation, signing, formation as well as prosecution of the purported agreement,” Mr Malami said.
He said the government “will vigorously defend its rights to protect its people’s assets around the world against the enforcement of the judgement.”
Mr Malami described the ruling as a sad one and the “consequences of the underhand dealings of the past administration”.
According to him, “Sadly, in spite of the spirited and concerted efforts of the current administration to combat corrupt practices and rent-seeking in all its forms, Nigerians woke up on Friday, August 16, 2019, to the rudest consequences of the underhand dealings of the past administration that has resulted in the award of $9 billion against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by a British court which ruled that Process and Industrial Development Limited had the right to seize $9 billion in Nigerian assets.”
He noted that “the dispute that led to the arbitration between the Federal Government of Nigeria and P&ID which consequently resulted in the said court ruling arose from a 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement purportedly entered with P&ID by the past administration in 2010, the contract which P&ID never performed as agreed”.
He said necessary steps would be taken to ensure everyone involved is brought to book.
“That being said, it must be placed on record that the federal government strongly views with serious concerns the underhand manners by which the negotiation, signing and formation of the contract was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration in connivance with their local and international conspirators all in a bid to inflict grave economic adversity on the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the good people of Nigeria,” he added.
The justice minister also promised to follow up with judicial reforms as well as propose an amendment of the Constitution.
He said this would provide an innovative way to tackle congestion of cases at the Supreme Court.
According to him, the ministry of justice, in collaboration with anti-corruption agencies would beam searchlight on the financial institutions and non-designated financial institutions, which he said, “are involved in most of the major corruption cases”.
The P&ID Judgement
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Nigerian government on August 16, suffered a major loss when a British court awarded over $9 billion damages against it for failing to honour a contract.
The judgment was given by Justice Butcher of The High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, where he ruled against Nigeria’s objection to arbitration that ruled in 2017 that the Nigerian government should pay $6.6 billion as damages to a company, Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID).
The damages and interest add up to about $9 billion.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how P&ID sued the Nigerian government and secured the monetary award in an arbitration by a three-member panel, which included Nigeria’s former attorney-general, Bayo Ojo.
Two members of the three-man tribunal, Lord Hoffmann and Anthony Evans, held that P&ID’s expenditure and income should have been about $6.597 billion if the agreement was duly performed by the government.
Both officials said the award should be paid together with interest at the rate of 7 per cent from March 20, 2013.
Mr Ojo, in his minority ruling, said although P&ID was entitled to compensation for the breach, its damages could not have been more than three years from the date of the alleged breach.
Mr Ojo said P&ID should not be paid more than $250 million as damages.
The majority tribunal ruling was accepted and following last week’s British court ruling, is now considered a court judgement.
P&ID has vowed to target Nigerian assets abroad in order to enforce the ruling which Nigeria has said it would appeal.